In March, I wrote about microfiber laundry pollution from synthetic clothing and mentioned that soon there would be a special bag available called Guppy Friend to catch those microfibers before they are rinsed down the drain. Well, the bag is now available and the company sent me one to test out.
Guppy Friend is a product developed by the campaign STOP! MICRO WASTE, a German non-profit founded by a group of surfers and nature lovers to find solutions to the microfiber pollution problem. Guppy Friend is just one of their projects, as they recognize that it is only one small part of the solution to a huge problem that will require systemic change on a massive scale, not just a few people conscientiously washing their polyester fleece in a special bag. But for those of you conscientious folk out there who do wear synthetic clothing and want to prevent the fibers from escaping into our waterways, here is one small solution.
Guppy Friend is a synthetic… Read the rest
The last time I wrote about doing laundry without plastic was June 17, 2009. Obama was our new president, and Michael Jackson was still alive (he died a week later). It’s time for an update.
Plastic-Free Soap Nuts Laundry Soap
Back in the day, we used powdered Ecover laundry detergent, in part because it came in a recyclable cardboard box and was the only brand I’d ever found that came with a cardboard scoop instead of a plastic one. Those days are over. Ecover switched to a plastic scoop (why does anyone need a new scoop with every box anyway?), and I no longer recommend it.
There are lots of recipes online for making your own laundry detergent with combinations of various ingredients, but the one that I’ve found to be the simplest to make and work the best in cold water is a liquid soap that requires only 2 ingredients: soap nuts and water. You can also add essential oil(s), but that’s totally optional.
The brand… Read the rest
So, you’ve been reading about ways to reduce your plastic use, including bringing back empty bottles and containers of personal care and cleaning products to refill, and you think, “I’ve got to try that sometime.” (The BULK mobile site can help you find refill locations.) But that means planning ahead and remembering to bring your empty containers back to the store. Once you get in the habit of doing it, remembering is no big deal. But getting started can be difficult for folks just beginning the plastic-free, zero waste journey. If only there were a service that would pick up those empties and deliver freshly filled ones right to your door.
If you live in the Bay Area, Stéphanie Regni can help! Her company, Fillgood.co, delivers refilled glass containers of natural personal care and cleaning products to local customers. I paid a visit to Stéphanie at her home in Albany, CA, last month, and chatted… Read the rest
Several months ago, while accompanying some friends on a shopping trip to Target, I came across a new product line that seemed at first glance to be a good sign: Scotch Brite “Greener Clean” products. I picked up a box of natural fiber non-scratch scour pads, biodegradable bamboo wipes, and a natural bamboo cleaning cloth. I didn’t read the fine print until I got home. Too bad.
All three products are packaged in recycled cardboard with no plastic packaging. Great. But the “natural fiber scour pad,” while containing 50% natural agave plant, is also 50% plastic. A phone call to 3M confirmed that. Because of the plastic, the pad is not biodegradable or compostable as I had originally assumed. (I’m not such a bad reader normally. Really!)
The bamboo products are not as green as you might think either.
According to an FTC report this past summer, bamboo rayon is no different from any other rayon product. Its “manufacturing… Read the rest
I hear people bemoaning the high cost of “going green.” And while organic food does cost more than its chemical-laden counterpart, I’m here to tell you that it’s easier to spend more for healthy food when you save money in other ways. We can skip many of the green cleaners, deodorizers, and personal care products, most of which are fairly expensive. To that end, baking soda is our friend. (Ha! I rhymed.)
What’s so great about baking soda?
1) It’s cheap. On Safeway.com, a 1 lb box is $1.40. But I save money and packaging by buying it from the bulk bin at my local natural foods store, filling up my own reusable cloth bag. That way, it’s only 89¢/lb!
2) It’s simple. One of the ways I try to protect my health and that of the planet is to buy products that contain the lowest number of different ingredients possible. Baking soda is just about as simple as you can get.
3) It’s non-toxic. Need… Read the rest
I was kind of a late bloomer, always jealous of other girls’ racks and fearing I’d never have one myself. Even my younger sisters got theirs ahead of me. No, I didn’t suddenly pump myself full of plastic to impress the boys. It’s my new Drying Rack, people! What the heck did you think?
Committed more than ever to saving energy after seeing The Age of Stupid last week, I was determined to figure out a way to hang dry at least some of our clothes. The trouble is, we don’t have a yard for installing the kind of contraption Linda has, and we don’t have room in the house to put one up either. Our laundry room is basically the back hallway which has barely enough room for Michael and me to squeeze past each other. We also don’t have the right kind of wall space to put up one of those expanding dry racks.
So I was happy to find a different kind of drying rack. Called the Best Drying Rack, the unit is constructed of maple and corrosion… Read the rest
When I start to feel depressed about the state of the world, I think about you guys, the folks who read this blog, those that I know and those I’ve yet to meet, and I realize how grateful I am to be part of this online community of people trying to make a difference. So I was tickled a month ago when Fake Plastic Fish reader Tiffany, proprietor of the the shop Juniperseed Mercantile (formerly Picnic Basket Crafts) emailed me to ask some questions about plastic packaging.
Tiffany is a school teacher by profession and in her “spare time” sells healthy cleaning and skincare products that she makes herself, trying very hard to reduce the amount of plastic packaging. She doesn’t even use plastic tape, and recently posted a Plastic-Free Green Product Packaging Tutorial on her blog, demonstrating exactly how to use paper tape. But she’s stuck when it comes to containers. As she wrote me,
…I can’t seem to get around… Read the rest
Lunch at Oliveto with my friend Simone last Saturday was great fun. Too much fun. I laughed so hard, I spilled coffee all over the table and all over my sleeve. Normally, I’d just take it home and “Shout it Out.” But not this time. This past week, I ran out of the plastic bottle of Shout I’d been using for the last two years and was determined to find a plastic-free alternative.
But the plastic bottle was not my only concern. Do you know what chemicals are in Shout? Terrible nasty ones or perfectly benign? Unless you work for S.C. Johnson, you’re as clueless as I am because the company doesn’t reveal it’s ingredients. Here’s the FAQ from the Shout web site:
Q. What are the ingredients in Shout®?
A. We can’t give away our “trade secrets,” but we can say that Shout® Laundry Stain Removers are detergent based with powerful cleaning agents. Shout® does not contain any phosphates or bleach.… Read the rest
UPDATE: Sadly, LaundryTree has closed its doors. You can now buy plastic-free soap nuts from Life Without Plastic (and My Plastic-Free Life will earn a small commission), but don’t leave just yet! This is still a great story about how to get companies to change their packaging. It also contains practical information about soap nuts and how to use them.
The original post…
Put on your fuzzy slippers. Grab a mug of cocoa. Sit back, and let me tell you a little story about why it’s worth it for us to ask for what we want. There’s free stuff at the end, so hang in with me.
Have you ever done your laundry with soap nuts or been curious to find out how they work? Soap nuts grow on a tree called Sapindus mukorossi (Chinese Soapberry) and contain saponin, a natural surfactant which foams just like soap. I’ve wanted to try soap nuts since I first spotted them in a natural grocery store a couple of years ago but have always been deterred… Read the rest
Way back in October, my friend Doug sent me a Clothesnik canvas garment bag to try out. I finally had a chance to use it last week. We haven’t taken clothes to the cleaners since July of last year! Unfortunately, it took a while to find a green cleaner that would actually use the bag. More on that later. First, I want to tell you about the Clothesnik.
The Clothesnik is a 100% cotton garment bag and laundry bag in one. Toss dirty clothes into it and tie up the bag using the strings at the bottom. Or use it clean as a garment bag to replace the disposable plastic bags the cleaners give out. If you don’t want to pay for the laundry service to clean the Clothesnik bag, wash it at home and return with it to pick up the clean clothes. Or don’t use it as a laundry bag. There are just so many options.
Our problem was finding a cleaner to use it correctly in the first place. A while back I wrote about green cleaner Blue Sky, which uses CO2 to clean clothes, one of the… Read the rest